The Palungtar plenum of the UCPN (Maoist) has ended, as expected, with an ambiguous and somewhat contradictory call for peace, constitution and revolt. If Maoists were confused about their future political course before the plenum, that confusion and contradiction only seems to have deepened after it. At the plenum, the Maoist leaders alternatively talked about peace and revolt as if those two words meant the same thing.
Addressing the inaugural session of the plenum seven days ago, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had said that India and mainstream parties were conspiring against peace and constitution and there was no option but to wage a revolt to defeat these forces. His political paper presented at the plenum was as forceful: "Compradors, foreign stooges, domestic feudalism
[which, according to the Maoists, are represented by parliamentary parties] and Indian expansionism have become our principal enemy today. We should be ready for a people´s revolt... to fight against possible foreign intervention."
However, addressing the press conference at Paluntgar Saturday, Dahal said the party would now hold serious talks with other major parties in parliament to conclude the peace process and to write a new constitution. He defended this contradiction arguing that his party would opt for a revolt if constitution- writing and peace process were obstructed. But none of the slogans sanctioned by the party high command and chanted at the conclusion of the plenum talked about peace and constitution. Instead, one of the slogans called for a steady preparation of a revolt.
The internal rifts in the Maoist party have reached a point from where it´s virtually impossible to address these contradictions. The faction led by Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya which has a strong grip in the party organization, doesn´t believe in the peace process at all and wants to abandon it altogether to push for an immediate revolt. Dahal is much closer with another Vice- chairman Dr Babauram Bhattarai´s political line that peace and constitution should be party´s immediate political goal, but has a major personality clash with him as he sees Bhattarai as a major threat to his leadership in the long run. Dahal and Bhattarai also have serious differences on how they view India.
Dahal´s political line to simultaneously push for peace, constitution and revolt is a result of an unnatural fusion between Bhattarai and Baidya´s political lines. This fusion, as contradictory it is, is unlikely to take the party anywhere. The Maoist party must decide once and for all whether it wants to be a part of a plural polity and accept competitive politics. If it does, there is no room for a revolt or even blackmail as all the differences are either settled through dialogues or through ballots, as per the wish of the people. And the Maoists will do well to realize that they joined the peace process after war terribly failed them.